IT Salaries in Tokyo

IT Salaries in Tokyo

Recently I wrote about entry level salaries in Japan for foreigners. I deliberately left out the IT industry, which is the topic for today.

The IT industry in Japan is broad based and as a foreign engineer there are many opportunities. Naturally, most of these opportunities revolve around being able to speak Japanese, so that you can communicate with your users, clients, and/or colleagues. However, there are also jobs available for English-only speakers if you have a high-level skill set - for example software design for banking software, data security, etc. Generally, by having Japanese speaking skills you increase your salary by about 30% and triple your chances of landing a job. Whether you think this level of advantage is worth the time spent studying the language is up to you.

The following numbers are intended as a guideline only - please don't flame me to death over variations that you may be receiving! Thanks...

For entry level positions in the industry, bilinguals are in biggest demand, and most jobs are in Help Desks, software coding, basic web design, and similar areas. Salaries start at about JPY250,000 per month for Help Desk people, and go up to about JPY400,000 per month for good coders. If you're not bilingual, then Help Desk work is usually not available.

For someone with bilingual skills and who has been in the IT field, in Japan, for about 2-3 years, salaries increase quite well. At the low end, for Help Desk analysts and coders, you can expect salaries around JPY400,000 per month and at the high end, for network administrators and server engineers, you can expect about JPY7-800,000 per month. As I mentioned earlier, reduce the top end by about 20-30% if you're not bilingual.

If you are managing up to around 10-15 other staff, and have a technical background, and are bilingual, your salary range will start at around JPY500,000 per month and rise to about JPY1,000,000 over a period of 3-5 years. Clearly the ranges go higher than this in banks and other well-heeled companies.

What about if you do technical sales? Well, the rates vary widely, and you almost always need Japanese-English bilingual skills. A typical entry level sales person will get about JPY250,000 base and 3-5% of net profits. In contrast, an experienced person can expect around JPY350,000-450,000 base and 5% or more of net profits. A top-level proven person who is leaving a senior position in another company can expect JPY650,000-JPY1MM base, and 5%+ of net profits. At this level, you should be pushing for a bigger commission rather than a bigger base as there seems to be a psychological barrier by many HR managers to raise base rates higher than this.Variations on the above include:

1. Big companies versus small ones. Smaller companies, those with less than 50 or so staff, usually pay 15-20% less than those with 100+. Of course, small companies are a great place to get your Tokyo career started.

2. Contractors usually get about 10-15% more than regular employees, based on the fact that they pay their own social insurance and have to cover their own costs.

3. Some experienced sales positions offer different combinations of base and commissions. Hardware companies often offer a higher base and lower commissions, while software and telco/data companies offer a low base and high commissions.

As always, my contact details are simply: Looking forward to getting some enquiries...